COUNCILLORS in Stratton have deferred making a decision on whether to take over the running of a library in their parish.

On Tuesday evening, members of the Stratton St Margaret Parish Council met with representatives from Swindon Borough Council to discuss handing control of Upper Stratton Library in Beechcroft Road to the parish council.

But after a lengthy debate, councillors decided they had insufficient information to proceed and deferred their decision until January.

Despite parish council chairman Joe Tray’s enthusiasm for the takeover, there was a noticeable air of scepticism, though Coun Tray insisted there was never any intention to proceed without the full support of members.

A passionate Coun Tray said: “I didn’t go into politics to close down libraries or children’s centres and I think it’s very important to provide these things for the community.

“It’s a very popular library and it serves a large area of Stratton. In fact, it’s the only library in Stratton apart from the small one here at the Grange.”

He told fellow councillors: “I don’t have to tell you how important it is to everybody.”

It follows news that as many as 10 of the town’s 15 libraries could close next year as Swindon Borough Council looks to save £48 million by 2020.

As a result, the borough is hoping to turn the threatened 10 into community-led libraries run by parish councils and local groups.

Answering councillor’s questions were Allyson Jordan and Andy Reeves from the borough council, who explained that the library is the sixth busiest in the town and continues to offer a valuable service to the people of Stratton.

Mr Reeves, the council’s community programme lead, said: “Access to the library’s computers is very important to people in the area and there is a strong need for a community hub.”

But councillors questioned how much the library is actually used and whether it would actually be worth the costs.

Coun Stuart Leach said: “I regularly use the library and I rarely see more than one or two people in there. I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t worth the bother of keeping it open because there isn’t enough demand from the 22,000 people who live in Stratton to keep it open.”

Coun Tim Page agreed, saying: “I don’t like the idea that we are in any way committed to this. It is a huge financial commitment and we have no right asking the people of Stratton for more money to fund a library that they probably won’t use or need. Libraries are a thing of the 20th Century, not the 21st.”

More will be known in January.